LICENSE BUREAU UPDATE
The Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) launched on July 25, 2017 to replace a 30-year-old system for Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS). It affects all renewals, transfers, registrations, handicap stickers, and various license plates. The goal was to simplify the reporting system and allow “real time” reporting that would update a customer’s vehicle by the time they walk out the License Bureau door.
The $97 million system took more than ten years to develop.
The plan was that MNLARS would shrink turnaround time for Minnesota titles from eight weeks to one week or less. The actual turnaround time for titles with MNLARS is currently at 93 days (about 13 weeks). “If a customer came in before July 25, 2017 with a complex transaction that includes a special plate, it is still sitting in St. Paul waiting for the system to accept it,” said Wright County License Bureau Supervisor Becky Aanerud.
Thousands of transactions that were submitted to Driver and Vehicle Services prior to MNLARS have not yet been resolved.
Unfortunately, it appears the MNLARS system was not properly tested, despite advice from stakeholders such as Deputy Registrar offices, dealers, auction houses, banks, insurance companies, and the many other entities that handle Minnesota titles and liens. Aanerud said she and other Deputy Registrars were warned that the system would be slower, but more efficient. “Those of us on the front end of the transaction would have much more work to do with each transaction,” Aanerud said. “The functions that they used to sell the system aren’t working.”
Aanerud said functions did that not work the first week included reporting, balancing, and inventorying plates and stickers. She said even simple transactions took much longer than the past. DVS was not transparent about the problems, she said, and blamed Deputy Registers for not being prepared. Aanerud and her staff were able to try out the system before it was launched, and reported the problems they encountered to DVS.
There are still occasional hiccups in the system that cause it to lock up or throw out data being entered. “We are never quite sure how this will come out on the next day’s report,” Aanerud said. “MNLARS took away all editing power from the users. We cannot edit a report once the transaction is entered.”
The MNLARS team has recently released a “Road map” indicating that some parts of MNLARS will not be functioning completely before the fall of 2019.
Ongoing problems with MNLARS include:
1) Occurrences of incorrect fees or information;
2) Errors in registration costs, base values, makes of vehicles, etc.;
3) Incorrectly adding late fees on transfers where they are not needed.
Aanerud said this has been the biggest challenge her office has ever faced. Steps taken to ease the situation for customers include:
1) Posting License Bureau staff in the hallway to answer customer questions;
2) Establishing a drop station for renewals outside the License Bureau for those who cannot wait in line;
3) Encouraging customers to mail their renewal to the License Bureau and not to DVS in St. Paul;
4) Promoting the use of License Bureaus so funds from filing fees stay local.
Aanerud said when customers go to a local License Bureau, they walk out with their tabs and plates. “If they do the renewal online or through the mail, it may take weeks or months to receive it from DVS,” Aanerud said. “Checks are being cashed without stickers being sent out. When that happens, customers call us, and we have to redirect them to St. Paul.” Aanerud said it is not unusual for a person to be on hold for over 60 minutes when calling the State. Despite all the problems, Aanerud said small advances have been made since the transition to MNLARS.
DVS is requesting an additional $43 million to repair the MNLARS system.
Aanerud praised her staff in the License Bureau for becoming a cohesive team that works together. “They just want to help their customers,” she said.
The Wright County License Bureau staff received the 2017 Group Achievement award among County employees for their exemplary dedication and work ethic.